OER infoKit wiki Open Educational Resources infoKit / Learning and Teaching considerations
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Learning and Teaching considerations

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Saved by David Cornforth
on June 18, 2010 at 1:57:29 pm


OERs are produced to support learning and teaching and may even be created as part of the learning and teaching processes. Content created by students during learning activities could potentially form part of OERs which raises considerable questions around ownership and attribution, discussed in more detail in the Legal Aspects of OERs section.

"The Senior Tutor of the School of Biosciences brought to our attention that school‘s practice of publishing the best undergraduate projects from each year. He was familiar with matters such as copyright and consent and allowed us to use these projects as BERLiN material. The inclusion of final year student content is an encouraging and exciting development, providing powerful and rewarding promotional opportunities for students and the institution alike."

Final report - BERLiN Project, University of Nottingham, Biosciences Undergraduate Research at Nottingham (BURN)

Whilst it seems obvious to state that OERs are fundamentally about learning and teaching, it is interesting to note that many of the people involved in the OER movement come from very different parts of the educational community. Indeed, OERs are often used as a marketing tools through such channels as iTunesU and the OpenCourseWare Consortium. However, much of the impetus comes from those supporting learning and teaching through technology and particularly those involved in the world of online learning and teaching repositories.


A significant driver for the OER movement has been the altruistic notion that educational resources should be available to all. This has been backed by national funders wishing to make their investment relevant to as wide a part of the community as possible. This can lead to tensions between teachers, who often have to respond to wider initiatives and directives, and those responding to funding calls. Some teachers have led the way and see clear benefits to making their teaching materials open, whilst others fear the burden of the extra work involved and are cautious for a range of reasons. The choice of OER licence can reflect the level of caution of some academic staff releasing their material for the first time. See the Intellectual Property Rights considerations section for more information on licensing.


The JISC/HE Academy pilot Programme has identified staff training and support as being key to supporting teachers to openly release their content and has developed some excellent workshop and guidance materials which will be available through the project websites initially. Several projects have put considerable effort into educating a wide range of people as to the benefits of open release to the different stakeholder groups. 


Pilot programme outcomes and discussion around OERs for learning and teaching are 

being developed on the OER Synthesis and Evaluation Team wiki - these pages are restricted until release at the end of June 2010.

Pilot programme outputs: Pedagogy and End use issues

Pilot programme outputs: Guidance and support

Pilot programme outputs: Cultural issues

Pilot programme outputs: Quality issues  


Different educational providers


It is worth noting that different sectors in the educational community have very different organisational cultures and institutional practices, which have had a significant impact on approaches to sharing, using and re-purposing learning resources. Common curricular and assessment practices appear to make it easier to share.


Whilst it would appear that UK Primary and Secondary Schools, with their adherence to a National Curriculum, standardised assessment regime and time-poor staff would embrace the notion of OERs, this has not been the case. Whilst there is very much a culture of sharing both resources and good practice, a deliberate programme of repository creation and OER release has not happened. Instead, there are numerous, informal, subject-specific communities of practice that provide channels for the dissemination of educational resources.


The UK Further Education (FE) Sector has national frameworks to support curricula and assessment (http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/furthereducation/uploads/documents/6514-FE%20White%20Paper.pdf and http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2004/11/20178/45862 ). This community appears to be more culturally inclined to use publicly funded resource collections such as the NLN materials, and the FERL website (now incorporated into the Adult Learning Inspectorate's good practice database). The common assessment framework in Scotland contributes towards the fact that the well established COLEG community has enabled successful sharing across colleges for some time and is developing a repository to further support this successful model.


By contrast many of the UK Higher Education (HE) Institutions balance the needs of research with teaching and several diverse cultures operate within one organisation. Some subject disciplines have common professional frameworks and staff may have more connection with their subject community than with colleagues from their own organisation. Several HE institutions have developed research repositories in an attempt to manage and preserve their institutional research outputs and some of these are looking to expand these to include learning and teaching materials. The Institutional strand of the JISC/HE Academy OER pilot programme provides some excellent examples of this and lessons learned by these projects provide an interesting contrast between an institutional approach to releasing OERs and the issues raised by the subject community and individual strands which are driven by teachers themselves.


Use of OERs

Much of the literature relating to OERs focus on OER release practices - how they are developed/created, stored, managed and made available. Issues of funding, sustainability and affordances of the various models are well documented. What is lacking in the literature is clear evidence of how these resources are used, and by who. Many OER/OCW services count the number of downloads but few can identify who is downloading them and how they are being used. This is perhaps quite surprising that so many services release content without a clear understanding of how the consumers will use it. It is not safe to assume that people who produce/release OERs are also users.


A useful metaphor for how OERs can be used, re-used and remixed is that of milk. This is explained in the OER Myths section


There is a clear need to clarify which groups (learners, registered students, other teachers) are using OERs and how (formal, informal, etc.) these resources are being used/repurposed. One of the key questions for those who aim to release OERs is whether to include pedagogic content (such as contextual information about how and when to use the resources) or to allow the user to define/add pedagogic context at the point of use. Finding out how people use different kinds of content, of varying granularity will help to inform these decisions. 


The JISC/Academy Open Educational Resources Programme will be including a focus on the discoverability and reuse of materials in the 2nd phase of funding, between August 2010 and August 2011.  The circular is available at  http://www.jisc.ac.uk/Home/fundingopportunities/funding_calls/2010/04/grant0610.aspx


Wikiversity has a online course entitled Composing free and open educational resources for academics interested in how to go about putting together OERs.


Image CC BY roger.karlsson



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